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Some of you will know that the past 6 months have been to say the least traumatic here.  Alfie had a major heart attack back at the beginning of October.  The recovery process has not been totally smooth, with many set backs along the way.  He had his most recent heart surgery just 2 weeks ago, and so far this seems to have worked, but we won’t know for certain until mid-May.

As you can imagine all of this has played havoc with pig farming and pork sales.

We ran out of pork supplies around Christmas.

Thankfully we had been in the process of re-stocking and introducing new stock when the first heart attack struck, so had reduced stock to just 2 sows.

All of this has led us to re-evaluate our lives and examine how we can best continue doing something we enjoy, but with a lower stress level!

We are sharing our thoughts here, and hoping you will give us your input, please!

Our plan is to restructure how we sell the pork, rather than selling pork boxes in 4 kg. boxes.

Our questions to you…

Would you pre-order a full or half of a pig?  A full pig would be approx. 60 kgs.

Would you commit to doing so in advance?  You would be given a date – in October/November – when your meat would be ready.

We would grow the pig ethically, organically and free-range for you.  You would receive your meat butchered and freezer ready.

We would love to hear your opinion and thoughts as to whether this is something you would consider.

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Most of you who follow on Facebook etc. will be aware that these past few months have been challenging on the health front here.

Alfie had a heart attack at the end of September which among many other factors hit us with regard to supplying hams to our usual Christmas customers. When we realised that we were faced with possibly disappointing our regular customers, I contacted them all, explained the situation to try to establish what their needs were.

Everyone was so understanding, and for once luck was on our side… a lot of our regulars were travelling for Christmas and would not need hams. Therefore, what little hams we had we could share among those staying at home.

We chatted with some other producers to see how they were fixed for supplies, because we knew we would have calls all the way up to Christmas.

One producer came up trumps and said he had plenty and would be delighted to supply.

We duly recommended him to many ….. mostly new to us, so we were going to miss out on possibly supplying them beyond Christmas  He was being handed new customers on a plate as such.

Then, we got the call from family (we’d forgotten to ask them if they needed ham!!!). Yes, they wanted a ham….. and ‘NO’ we did not have one.

Rather than disappoint family, we contacted said producer, explained that it was for family and could he help? He’d be delighted to…. no problem…. although delivery would be Christmas week.

Oldfarm Christmas Ham

Sorted.

Money paid …. full price paid.

And, yes, you’ve guessed it….. NO HAM ARRIVED.

Despite endless text messages, phone calls, emails, over several days ….. this chap did not answer a single call.

Now what would you think?

Alfie suggested that maybe he’s been in an awful car crash or something?

I feel…. he’s excuse better be along those lines.

He has disappointed me as a customer.

He has embarrased me to my family.

He has totally embarrassed us to potential customers…… did they get their hams? Do they think we operate our business like this?

What would you think?

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Snapchat

I hate to admit defeat, but I really don’t get Snapchat.

I understand how it works.

I just don’t understand how it can work for business.

Snapchat logo

Snapchat logo

What’s the point of spending time recording something that will ‘disappear’ in 24 hours?  It just doesn’t make sense.

Is it not more useful to use Vine, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube?

I know you can store your ‘story’ and re-post it again and again, but what is the point?

I’ve done so much research into this, and nothing so far has convinced me or given me any idea of the benefits.

I’ve never been so stumped by a new ‘app’.  I don’t want to be considered as being ‘closed’ to new technologies.

Does anyone have a good reason why business should be using ‘SnapChat’? Can anyone explain it to me?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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I am willing to admit to being a bit of a nerd, and enjoying most social media platforms.  The latest addition – Snapchat, has left me a bit cold – I just can’t seem to get into it at all…..

However, I do enjoy Twitter and Instagram immensely.  Do you have favourite ones?

For my sins over the past 18 months I’ve volunteered and acted as ‘curator’ on some national accounts. Have you ever done this?  It is all a bit daunting initially but then once you get into the swing of it, it can be lots of fun.  And you do get to ‘meet’ lots of generally nice people.

The first account I was curator on was ‘TweetingFarmers’, which subsequently evolved into @IrelandsFarmers.  ‘TweetingFarmers” was a fun account.  It’s purpose was to introduce the customer to what farming is all about, so that they would know how much work goes into producing the food that is going into their weekly shopping cart.  I think I was among the first to curate on that account.  I really hadn’t a clue what to expect. I needn’t have worried.  It went really well.

Last year I also did a week tweeting on @IrelandsFarmers account.  That was best described as ‘interesting’.  When I brought up the subject of Genetically Modified Organisms, I opened such a can of worms!  Let’s just say that the majority of the followers on the account (mostly farmers) did not agree with my stance against gmo’s.  It would seem that most farmers believe gmo’s will save the planet!  A bit scary really.

Possibly the hardest curating was doing a week in December on the Instagram account of @FarmsnotFactories. As you know Instagram is very visual and all photographs.  The only reason it was difficult was the weather!  Oh my lord, the weather.  It was wet and muddy and not really conducive to taking photographs!  I got through the week, but had to be creative and use some old photos.

Smallholders Ireland

Smallholders Ireland

The latest week I did was on @SmallholderIrl.  This is a very new account, and I was privileged to be the first to curate on the account.  Again, it was great to ‘meet’ some new people, most of whom were again really nice and chatty – there was just one exception – but we shall not go there.

Curating on each of these accounts has definitely increased our own profile.  We have picked up new followers every time.  Of course, there are rules – or more ‘dos and don’ts’ – when you are running the account.  It is not about self-promotion.  It is acceptable to promote your product, but a ‘hard sell’ would not be appropriate.

The folks at Smallholders Ireland are actively seeking people to commit to a week. They would love to have artisan food producers; those who aspire to be self-sufficiency; in fact anyone who is passionate about doing what they can to grow their own food.   You don’t have to have huge acreage… just a passion for growing and talking 🙂

Go on give them a shout – the email address is in the photo above, or at the very least give them a follow.

 

 

 

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Any of you who have received a delivery of Oldfarm Pork will be familiar with our insulated delivery boxes.  While the boxes work extremely well for delivery, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve deliberated over the fact that they aren’t very ‘environmentally’ friendly.

delivery boxes ready to go

delivery boxes ready to go

 

We’ve tried to work out a system where they could be returned…. but have always drawn a blank on that.

We’ve done research into biodegradable boxes, and, yes, they are available, but folks the cost!!!  Not just the cost of each individual box but the cost to us as you have to buy hundreds of boxes at a time and where would we store them???

It was fun then last week to get the following email from a customer:

 I’ve always wanted to try ‘sous-vide’ cooking, but not enough to pay five hundred euros to buy a proper sous-vide cooker. So I experimented. 

Using the insulated box you sent me my pork in, and a meat thermometer with a sharp probe, and a fillet steak already vacuum packed from Lidl. I heated water in a pan to 60 degrees C, poured it into your insulated box, popped in the steak still sealed in the pack from the shop, and poked the thermometer in through the  side of the box so that it reached into the water. Temperature was fifty seven or so and stayed at that temperature for an hour or so, long enough to cook my steak. Then I seasoned it and flash fried it to get a nice brown outside. Perfect, perhaps the best steak I ever ate.

Mike, I love your ingenuity.

Then I remembered another customer telling me they had used one of their boxes as a flower pot.  Look at this photo Maja sent me – she has a cape goose berry and flowers growing in hers.

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

So have any of our other customers found interesting ways of recycling/upcycling our delivery boxes?

We’d love to hear …. and it would certainly to partially salve our conscious about the environmental impact.

Thank you!

 

 

 

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to Tom and Heather at Caravantasia…. it’s a wonderful new caravan site with a difference that has started up in Crohan nr. Killenaule outside Thurles.  You’ll just love the quirky vintage caravans that have been lovingly restored and each has its own beautifully colour co-ordinated deck area.

Yellow Vintage Caravan

Yellow Vintage Caravan

 

Red Vintage Caravan

Red Vintage Caravan

We spent a lovely few hours at Caravantasia yesterday… and the weather JUST managed to hold off for most of the day.

We enjoyed sessions with Wesley on how to make your own organic charcoal…. real easy when you know how 🙂

Charcoal making

Charcoal making

The afternoon was spent with Gary learning how to build a clay oven, so hopefully our own will soon start to take shape!  The plinth for it has been ready for quite a while. 🙂

Loved the wooden-framed bicycles from Woodelo and the chainsaw wood-sculpting was pretty amazing too.

Woodelo wooden bike frames

Woodelo wooden bike frames

 

Wood Carving

Wood Carving

I was so busy chatting and catching up with folks from Tipperary Green Business Network that I didn’t really get to take many photos – besides the fact that I let my camera fall and have damaged the lens, which I am praying frantically can be fixed.  However, lets not dwell on that today.  It was really great to catch up Brian (Biofinch), Sean (Cloncannon Biofarm) and Kate (TGBN).

Our best wishes to Tom and Heather on their new venture.

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Remember my rant just 11 days ago about my mobile phone and lack of customer service from Samsung?  Well, folks, it has got worse.  Truly.

Samsung

Samsung

I think the Worst Customer Service Award in the World can now be awarded to Three.

Three.ie

Three.ie

Let me fill you in.

I finally got what is called a PRN number from Samsung a few days after my rant post.  They told me to contact Three who would arrange the replacement phone through some ‘PRN’ arrangement – which as I understand it, means Three replace my phone, and Samsung replace the phone to Three.

The past week went like this.

  • Initial phone call made to Three – spoke to some nice charming man in India – who asked me to forward the confirmation email that I had received from Samsung.
  • I did this.
  • I got an email back saying Three don’t accept ‘forwarded’ emails!  What????  Could I do a screenshot?
  • I did screenshot and attached this to the email (there was a request to keep the email thread going!).
  • A different person responded to say they hadn’t got attachment
  • This went on for about 10 emails…. each time from a different person in India.
  • Eventually contacted Three in Ireland via Twitter who ‘would look into it’.
  • Friday evening last I got an email from India saying they don’t have a ‘PRN’ arrangement with Samsung.
  • Monday morning contacted Three Ireland via twitter asking for a phone number or email address to speak to someone in Ireland directly – gave them my number so they could contact me.
  • Various dm’s but no phone call, nor no contact number given.
  • Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a call from India again.  They want me to send the phone to Fonemenders again for verification that it doesn’t work!!!!!
  • Tried the person behind the Twitter account again.  And you know what they are saying to me now?  That I should go and talk directly to Samsung as they have said they would replace it!!!

I can tell you I was extremely angry with the final call from India.  He could actually track the worksheet from Fonemenders and yet wanted me to send it off again!

Why would I send it off again to a company who have already examined the phone and sent it back ‘fixed’….. it wasn’t/isn’t fixed.  I have no faith in Fonemenders. Their by-line is laughable.

Fonemenders

Fonemenders

The response from Three twitter has to be almost laughable, if I wasn’t so angry. Their idea of customer service is to pass the buck!

Just a snippet of today's twitter conversation

Just a snippet of today’s twitter conversation

Oh and by the way….. yesterday I also tagged Samsung Ireland and Fonemenders in various tweets.  Did any of them respond?  Not on your nelly!

Do any of these ‘mobile’ phone people do customer service?

I have the phone 18 months.  Bought it from Three.  Have been paying them handsomely each month.

And they are just ignoring me!!!!!!!!!

The fight is not yet over.  As you can imagine, I really do not give a tuppenny hoot who replaces my phone.  I just want it replaced.

IT DOES NOT WORK AS A MOBILE DEVICE.  IT HAS TO BE PLUGGED IN AT ALL TIMES.

Has anyone had good experience with these companies?  I’d love to hear of your experiences.

And, of course, would be thrilled if you spread the word about this shoddy service 🙂

Rant over (for now).

 

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